Blog: 50th Law Chapter 7

Know Your Environment from the Inside Out—Connection

All living creatures depend for their survival on their relationship to their environment. If they are particularly sensitive to any kind of change—a danger or an opportunity—they have greater power to dominate their surroundings. 

It is not simply that the hawk can see farther than any other creature, but that it can see great detail, picking out the slightest alteration in the landscape. Its eyes give it tremendous sensitivity and supreme hunting prowess.

We live in an environment that is mostly human. It consists of the people that we interact with day in and day out. 

These humans come from many varied backgrounds and cultures. They are individuals with their own unique experiences. 

To know people well—their differences, their nuances, their emotional life—would give us a great sense of connection and power. 

We would know how to reach them, communicate more effectively, and influence their actions. 

But so often we remain on the outside and lack this power. To connect to the environment in this way would mean having to move outside ourselves, train our eyes on people, but so often we prefer to live in our heads, amid our own thoughts and dreams. 

We strive to make everything in the world familiar and simple. We grow insensitive to people’s differences, to the details that make them individuals.

At the root of this turning inward and disconnect is a great fear—one of the most primal known to man, and perhaps the least understood. 

In the beginning, our primitive ancestors formed groups for protection. To create a sense of cohesion, they established all kinds of codes of behavior, taboos, and shared rituals. 

They also created myths in which their tribe was considered to be the favorite of the gods, chosen for some great purpose. 

To be a member of the tribe was to be cleansed by rituals and to be favored by the gods. 

Those who belonged to other groups had unfamiliar rituals and belief systems—their own gods and origin myths. 

They were not clean. They represented the Other—something dark, threatening, and a challenge to the tribe’s sense of superiority.

This was part of our psychological makeup for thousands upon thousands of years. 

It transformed itself into a great fear of other cultures and ways of thinking—for Christians, this meant all heathens. 

And despite millennia of civilization, it lives on within us to this day, in the form of a mental process in which we divide the world into what is familiar and unfamiliar, clean and unclean. 

We develop certain ideas and values; we socialize with those who share those values, who form part of our inner circle, our clique. 

We form factions of rigid beliefs—on the right, on the left, for this or for that. We live in our heads, with the same thoughts and ideas over and over, cocooned from the outside world. (To be continued)